Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Drama: A Review by Mariah

This review of Raina Telgemeier’s DRAMA is by Mariah, age 7.

This book came in my dad’s mail and on the first day he got it I was all over it.  I read it all the first day and then a little after I was finished it I read again.  I even brought it to the dentist to read in the waiting room.  Dad didn’t even get to read it.  I am reading it again now.  I am at page 95 (it has 233 pages).

In DRAMA Callie wants to be in the school play, but she can’t because she is not a very good singer.  Instead she joins the stage crew and makes sets.  There is also trouble with some boys she likes.
I wanted to take a look at it when dad first got it because the title and the cover looked very interesting.  The coloured in pages of the book made me think it was an interesting book.  Then the colour stopped and turned to black, grey and white, but that made me think it was even more interesting.  I thought it was going to be a colour, no-colour, colour, no-colour book, but dad says that the colour stopped because we have a review copy, not a store copy.  You can get the full-colour book in September 2012.

Mariah buying her own copy at Chapters.
Drama is a really cool book.  I don’t have a favourite part because every part is my favourite.  I like it when Callie and her friends, Justin and Jessie go to a bookstore.  They get out a book about an old play and on the next page they are actually in the book.  It’s cool because I thought they were just looking at it but then their imagination made them go in the book.  Later in the bookstore Justin and Jessie give Callie bubble tea and when she drinks it she says it is “bizarre.”   I also like the details of Raina Telgemeier’s art.

I think this book would be good for kids aged 10 and up, but I’m only 7.  There is a little kissing and some boyfriend stuff.  The prom part is not too bad, but with the kissing, I’m not too sure. 
Dad says that the publisher, Scholastic, recommends the book for  ages 10-14 or grades 5-9.  I think adults might want to look at it too.

You can watch a video of the book HERE.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Trip To the Bottom Of the World With Mouse: A Toon Book Review

I haven’t put anything up here for a while, even though the pile of stuff I should be writing about is growing taller all the time, so I thought I should pick one of the best off the pile and let you know about it.

Toon Books have consistently been publishing accessible and age appropriate comics for young readers for a few years.  They are a quality classroom and bedtime alternative to comic sets put out by education publishers.  Those sets have been fine, capitalizing on the current acceptance of comics as classroom reading material, but to me they always read like comics put out by publishers capitalizing on the current acceptance of comics as classroom reading material.  Toon Books read like great story books with word balloons and sequential storytelling sensibilities.  I have not liked all of the books put out by this publisher, but overall they have been quite good – and the couple I didn’t like my kids did (so what do I know).

A Trip To the Bottom Of the World With Mouse, by Frank Viva is one of the newest of the Toon Books and my kids and I think it is one of the best looking.  One of my daughter’s favourite picture books is the beautiful The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau and it was the first thing we both thought of when we saw A Trip To the Bottom Of the World.  If you have never checked out the Jacques Cousteau book, trust me, this is high praise.

This book is for grade 1-2 level readers but it would make a good bedtime story for anyone younger as well.  The vocabulary in the book is repetitive (in a good way) and it has harder words bunched by theme  (four things that can be worn in the cold: boots, mittens, a hat and a scarf).  The Toon Books website lists it at Guided Reading level E and Lexile Level BR.

Frank Viva’s artwork here is fantastic.  The Antarctic night, the animals, the cold – all brought to life in a cartoony storybook way.  It is wonderful stuff.

All Toon Books are durable,  and well put together.  A Trip To the Bottom Of the World With Mouse is a well-crafted book that would be a good addition to any bookshelf.

Review by: Scott Tingley

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2012
32 pages, 9” x 6”, hardcover, U.S. $12.95/ $15.00 CAN

ISBN-13 978-1-935179-19-1
ISBN-10 1-935179-19-5

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Chapel Chronicles: An Interview

This interview was written by my (Scott T, the creator of this site) 7 year old daughter, Mariah.

Mariah:  I really like your comics.  When did you start making the comics for The Chapel Chronicles?

Emma T. Capps: Thanks! I started making the comics for the Chapel Chronicles in 8th grade. For my 8th grade project, I designed a collection of greeting cards and gifts based upon this character I designed named Chapel Smith. I then decided to extend it to comics.

Mariah: When did you first create the Chapel character? Is she really you?

Emma: No, Chapel isn’t me. For example, I don't really like to dress up whereas Chapel does. I'd say Chapel's a lot more competitive and courageous than I am, and I actually admire how much self-esteem she has to wear crazy outfits all the time! I don't think I'd be brave enough to wear a Lady Gaga dress to a wedding, that's for sure, and I think it's great that Chapel's confident enough to go ahead with it!
I first created Chapel, I believe in 7th grade. I was just doodling and my mom saw my doodles and she said she really liked one which became Chapel.

Mariah: This is one of the most awesome comics I have read.  They make me laugh in my head.
Where do you get the ideas for your comics?  Do your ideas come from things that happen to you or from things you see happening to other people or do you just make up the ideas?  My dad makes comics out of what he sees me and my brother doing.

Emma: Again, thank you so much! I make comics to make people smile so I’m happy to hear they make you laugh.  First, I brainstorm my idea. I would say I have flights of fancy quite a bit...I like to think about things that could happen. Of course, this helps me quite a bit in dreaming up new Chapel comics!  I'll try to find something I've observed or witnessed recently to use as a jumping-off point. I do sometimes draw directly from my own life, but I try to always make the comics very universally appealing. I only ever use something that's happened in my own life if I think it's something everyone can relate to. In the first volume, there are many Chapters that have never happened to me (I’ve never adopted an animal nor found a person whose music I obsess over).

Mariah: Your art is hilarious.  How long does it take you to make one comic?
Emma: First, thank you! I try hard to make people smile when I write my comics.  It generally takes between 5-6 hours to draw, ink, and color a comic. I don’t keep track of how much time it takes me for to come up with an idea. Recently I thought out 15 ideas and only picked 9 to draw. Some can take longer like the Valentine’s Day strip when the background is complicated. You can see that strip here: http://www.chapelchronicles.com/comic/50.

Mariah: Did anyone help you with the comics for the book or did anyone help you put the book together?

Emma: My dad helped put the book together a bit because he knows about the printing process but I selected how I wanted it to look and wrote everything; including deciding what press quotes I wanted in the book, the About Emma section, the cover. Since it’s my book, I need to touch every element in it.

Mariah:  Are you happy with the book?  Are lots of people seeing it?

Emma: I am very happy with the book. Recently more people have seen it since I implemented a good commenting ability on the website which my techie father kindly wrote for me. I would like to find more ways for more people to see it. Since I’m in school, I don’t have tons of time to market my work like other people do because I have homework and an early bedtime. And I’m now being homeschooled so I don’t have loads of friends.  So I need help from family, friends, and reviewers like you to spread the word.

Mariah: There are lots of board games in the book.  Do you like board games?  My favourite game is Operation.

Emma:  I do like board games. I’ve not played all the games I put in the book. I’ve never played Risk but I do like playing games with my family and friends such as Pictionary and Scrabble. I play Scrabble in Spanish with my Spanish teacher. I play Battleship with my mom but I always seem to win even when she places her pieces randomly on the board. I’ve never played chess but I liked drawing that strip because I added an homage to my dad’s game called Through the Looking Glass, which was the first game for the Macintosh.

Mariah:  Do you have any other characters you are making comics about?

Emma: Besides Chapel, I also want to do some graphic novels, which would be very different from Chapel in both style and tone. It will be in a different drawing style; my more realistic drawing style and not the cartoony style I draw for Chapel. I'm going to be working on one this summer! I've already got some of the plot planned out and a good majority of the characters designed.

Mariah:  Do you have another Chapel book comic out soon?

Emma: Yes! In the short-term, this April I'm going to be exhibiting at a comic convention called The MoCCA Festival (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) in New York City, and debuting a brand-new book of Season Two of my Chapel webcomics. I'm really excited to go, and I hope lots of my readers can make it out to say hi! MoCCA is April 28th and 29th, 2012. I will also be debuting a perfect bound, 80 page book which will contain all the strips in both Season One and Season Two with some special materials.

Mariah:  Thanks for answering my questions.

Emma: It’s always a pleasure to answer questions. I hope you sign up for email and that way you’ll get some seriously wacky fun in your mailbox. You can always feel free to email me. My email address is etc@chapelchronicles.com

Thank you for your questions and your time! 

Chapel books and other items can be purchased at http://www.chapelchronicles.com/orders/new#item423

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

LEGO NINJAGO #1: The Challenge of Samukai!

Article by Scott Tingley

I sat down at my computer this evening intending to go through a recently published comic, an adaptation of Lego’s newest big toy line, Ninjago. I don’t usually talk about books like this on my site – books that are essentially ads for toys, but Lego was about the only thing that made it through the Christmas season at my house without breaking so I have no problem reviewing this book (Seriously, have you ever gotten a Lego set with a missing piece? What great quality control).

Thing is, I am having some trouble locating my copy of Ninjago: The Challenge of Samukai, the first Ninjago comic published by Papercutz. As soon as I showed it to my four year old son, Jack it was no longer my book to review, it was his to play with. He can’t read yet, but I have never seen him want to read so badly. At the time he owned none of the Lego sets and had not seen the cartoon, but he immediately wanted to know everything about these characters. He quickly learned the Ninja’s names and he and his sister pretended they were ninja for a couple of days.

My son is asleep now and I seriously cannot find the book. He has it squirreled away somewhere and it will pop up sometime soon when he feels ninja-y. Luckily, my boy did have me read it to him, so I can touch on a few points.

The art was appropriate for the book. This may sound like faint praise for the artist, Paulo Henrique but with books of this type the art has to fit a certain style – in this case it has to look like Lego. Henrique does a fine job stylistically (everything looks like Lego) and his storytelling was quite clear. This book is intended for ages 6 and up and if the storytelling is not interesting and clear for these young readers then they will simply stop reading, never to return.

Greg Farshtey is the author and I really appreciated how he broke the story down into 5 or so page chapters. I read it to my son and it was easier for him (me too) to stay interested when we could read it in one or two chapter intervals. At first glance the pages looked a bit wordy, but as I read it I realized that it wasn’t wordy for the sake of filling up the page. I won’t mention here other adaptations of popular characters that I loathed reading simply because the book would not shut up.

Here is Jack’s review of the book:

They ride blizzards and they jump a lot…Read all this, Daddy. Read all of these squares. This one is running through the spikes and he has really fast powers so he can break the walls down. Read this for me now please.

That is a pretty good endorsement from the target audience.

My son, Jack and I approve this book and we recommend it. See a sample chapter HERE.

LEGO NINJAGO #1: The Challenge of Samukai!
November 8, 2011/Ages 6 and up
$6.99 paperback (USA)/ISBN: 978-1597072977
$10.99 hardcover (USA)/ISBN: 978-1597072984

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